Against the Rotten Block

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Sun Oct 6 11:31:24 MDT 1996


At 1:29 AM 10/6/96, Vladimir Bilenkin wrote:

>This is then how we solve the apparent paradox of the arch-rotten
>block between the social-imperialist defender of the U.S. labor
>aristocracy Mr. Henwood and the flaming anti-imperialist and the
>"smasher" of the U.S. labor aristocracy Mr. Oleachea.

Reading the screed from which this is extracted, I could only think of two
things - psychiatric diagnostic categories, and a quote from John Maynard
Keynes's commentary on Hayek's loopy book, Prices and Production. First
Keynes: "It is an extraordinary example of how, starting with a mistake, a
remorseless logician can end up in Bedlam. Yet Dr Hayek has seen a
vision...." Keynes's description is actually a nice definition of the logic
of paranoid schizophrenia - one whose premises are at a considerable remove
>from reality, but which nonetheless proceeds with impressive complexity
>from those demented premises.

Another aspect of schizophrenia is apparent not only in this posting, but
in those of the participants that VB refers to as "orthodox Trotskyists."
In my book, "orthodox" is generally a term of abuse, but I'll let that pass
for now and focus instead on the (literally) schizophrenic use of language
- the severance of signifier and signified, the concretization of language,
the repeating of stock phrases ("yellow journalist Proyect," "rotten
block," etc.) that are more like ritual incantations than efforts to
communicate or persuade.

Vlad, maybe you should give up on the politics for a while and return to
literary studies, which I'm sure you're quite good at, or maybe step out of
"the archives" and wander a bit around North Carolina and learn something
about the lives of real people. Let me know how many labor aristocrats you
find around Harnett County (1990 census median household income: $21,743,
or 72% of U.S. average).

Doug

--

Doug Henwood
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